POSTS BY VANCOUVER NEIGHBOURHOOD FOOD NETWORKS

  • CELEBRATING COMMUNITY FOOD ACTION WITH GORDON NEIGBHOURHOOD HOUSE

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Uncategorized // August 25, 2020

    This is the sixth in a series of blog posts featuring each of our Vancouver Neighbourhood Food Networks.


    Joey Sing Yiu Liu (she, her, hers) identifies as an immigrant settler born in Hong Kong, who has now lived on unceded Coast Salish homelands for 30 years. She has worked as the farmer and community programmer at Gordon Neighbourhood House for 3.5 years.

    Gordon Neighbourhood House envisions a dynamic, diverse neighbourhood where everyone is empowered to play a role in their community. Their mission is moving together to build connection and opportunity in their neighbourhood—for today and tomorrow. As a Vancouver Neighbourhood Food Network member organization, they provide dignified food access to West End residents and use food as a vehicle to bring people together.

    Joey is proud of Gordon House’s commitment to meet people where they’re at and create opportunities for the community to lead and share their creative ideas. She also appreciates how their team and organization are committed to social justice issues and take opportunities to learn and grow with the community. 

    “Gordon House is often described as people’s second home, and that also reflects our welcoming and safe environment,” says Joey. “I’m biased but I think we do really amazing food work!”

    Before March 2020, Gordon House grew fresh veggies through their Urban Farm program, that went back to the House’s kitchen and Community Lunch Program. Their approach to dignified food distribution included the West End Community Food Hub, food asset mapping, community lunches, food skills and gardening workshops , low-cost produce markets, and a Farmers Market coupon program. Twice a week, their resident Chef also taught Out of School Care kids how to make healthy snacks and practice proper knife skills. Food justice advocacy and advocating for Indigenous land sovereignty have also been central to the work of the Gordon House team.

    Farm-fresh Gordon Greens, grown in the West End neighbourhood.

    Gordon House started doing programs and outreach online once COVID-19 began, which included cooking and delivering healthy frozen prepared meals to over 40 seniors in the West End.. Along with United Way’s Local Love Food Hubs, they worked to redistribute needed supplies to community members and partners.

    Although folks couldn’t meet in person, Gordon House posted online cooking recipes and videos to help neighbours feel inspired and supported. In June, they adjusted and launched their urban farm program to focus on connection to land and nature-based learning, at a time when people were feeling increasingly isolated and looking for ways to spend time outside.

    Food asset mapping also became a priority, and the House offered a one-time emergency food distribution to 150 Food Hub members before neighbourhood Food Hubs were centralized by the Greater Vancouver Food Bank. The Famers Market coupon program remained in effect, and Gordon House distributed $60,000 worth of grocery gift cards to neighbours. Throughout these past months, they have remained dedicated to sharing and developing West End food resources.

    Vancouver Neighbourhood Food Networks

    As one of many Vancouver Neighbourhood Food Networks (VNFN), Joey describes VNFN as “a supportive network where we can work collaboratively and respectfully around ideas and solutions that help each respective network and the local food system across Vancouver.” 

    “We often talk about how this collective should focus on work that we can’t do as an individual network, and during COVID we saw this more than ever when network coordinators worked closely together around emergency food distribution and other initiatives,” says Joey. “I’ve really appreciated the support and collaboration during COVID when everything was so overwhelming, and also VNFN Coordinator Sarah Kim’s amazing (and magic!) leadership where she funnelled so many resources and contacts between people.”

    “Overall, I appreciate the work that we do around food justice and advocacy, especially when we use a holistic and intersectional approach, because this is how we will truly help change the food system,” says Joey. “It’s also really important to me that everyone who comes to the table is respectful and willing to learn and grow.”

    Neighbours gather at the Gordon Neighbourhood House GBQ in 2018

    What Neighbours are Saying

    When Gordon House distributed packages of Farmers Market coupons and grocery card vouchers to some members, people mentioned how they felt like they were opening a Christmas package. They shared a lot of nice comments about their appreciation, as well as pictures about the produce they bought and meals they made using the vouchers.

    One member in particular said: “This is the only light in my life right now and I sure appreciate it.”

    An image of brightly coloured garden veggies on a neighbour's dining room table
    A neighbour shared this photo of fresh fruit and veggies purchased with the vouchers Gordon Neighbourhood House distributed.

    Future Goals

    Gordon House’s future goals include deepening their process for uplifting community voices and action, and  helping to support community members to make things happen. They aim to provide more dignified emergency food access for the West End neighbourhood via stronger network and community partnerships—while relying less on the Greater Vancouver Food Bank. For Gordon House, deepening the organization’s actions and commitment to social justice issues is centred around decolonization, anti-racism and inclusivity, and these values will continue to inform the work they do.

    Learn more, contribute, and celebrate community food action with Gordon Neighbourhood House


  • CELEBRATING COMMUNITY FOOD ACTION WITH DOWNTOWN EASTSIDE NEIGHBOURHOOD HOUSE RIGHT TO FOOD NETWORK

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Advocacy, Community Gardening and Urban Farming, Dignified Food Access, Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood House, Food Justice, Mobile Markets, Neighbourhood Food Networks, Poverty Reduction // August 13, 2020

    This is the fifth in a series of blog posts featuring each of our Vancouver Neighbourhood Food Networks.


    The DTES (Downtown Eastside) Neighbourhood House is a secular, grassroots, place-based organization. The House aims to provide leadership, social, recreational and educational opportunities for DTES residents of all ages to meaningfully engage with and contribute to their community in an equitable atmosphere. While understanding food to be an invaluable  communicative instrument, the House uses food as a central component of community building.

    An image of a group of people working together around a table

    Before COVID-19, the DTES Neighbourhood House Right to Food Network was engaged in a number of programs and initiatives, including: urban farming, gardening workshops, seed saving, cooking and nutrition workshops, food recovery and distribution, as well as community meals and food asset mapping with a focus on food justice advocacy.

    Because of COVID-19, a number of the programs at the Neighbourhood House, such as the kids and family programming, as well as the nutritional outreach programming, have been put on hold. The Network is currently focusing on urban farming and bulk buying as part of its emergency food response efforts, and food asset mapping is more important than ever.

    In lieu of the Family Drop-In program, the Neighbourhood House has been putting together food hampers with everyday necessities, including fruits and vegetables, for the families and seniors in the community. Families and seniors are able to come to the House to pick up the hampers once a week. The House has been able to deliver hampers to those who are unable to pick up the hampers on site. 

    The Community Drop-In program has also been adapted, and the team has transitioned to delivering the oatmeal breakfast and lunch through take-out, five days a week. 

    An image of a person hugging an armload of zucchinis in the kitchen

    Challenges & Goals

    There is an abundance of processed foods and food items high in refined sugars in the Downtown Eastside (DTES). Community members often lack access to fresh foods that are nutritionally rich and diverse and those living in Single Room Occupancy housing (SRO’s) do not have the capacity to prepare their own meals. The House’s programming, which is centered around food security, isd driven by a food philosophy that focuses on the provision of nutritionally rich,varied, culturally and religiously appropriate meals to community members who often lack access to nutritious food options. 

    An image of a person chopping food

    The increasing gentrification of the DTES community, which may lead to the displacement of community resources and the loss of community capacity, means there is a need to continue to foster community resiliency and explore how best to strengthen current initiatives. Food security will continue to be the major focus of the DTES Neighbourhood House’s programming, and the Right to Food Network is looking for ways to increase community capacity through community gardening projects and other similar areas.

    Learn more, contribute, and celebrate Community Food Action with the Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood House Right to Food Network:

  • CELEBRATING COMMUNITY FOOD ACTION WITH CEDAR COTTAGE NEIGHBOURHOOD FOOD NETWORK

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Advocacy, Cedar Cottage Food Network, Community Gardening and Urban Farming, Dignified Food Access, Food Justice, Mobile Markets, Neighbourhood Food Networks, News // August 11, 2020

    This is the fourth in a series of blog posts featuring each of our Vancouver Neighbourhood Food Networks.


    Barb Wong (she, her, hers) was born and raised in Vancouver, and comes from Chinese heritage. She recently joined the Cedar Cottage Food Network Society (CCFN) in May 2020. For Barb, building connections with community members and their capacity through food is at the heart of her work with this Network—along with early memories of enjoying food with family.

    “I grew up at the apron strings of my Poh Poh (maternal grandmother). I’d spend most of my days with her in the vegetable garden and kitchen,” says Barb.

    “She prepared a lot of traditional foods including wind-dried duck that she would hang on the clothesline! I had an Easy Bake oven and she and I would spend hours baking little cakes.”

    An image of a person watering a garden next to the sidewalk

    CCFN is an independent, non-profit organization working toward more sustainable and just food systems at the neighbourhood level.  They create space for Kensington-Cedar Cottage residents to take part in different levels of food systems by providing programming, tools, and opportunities for community connections.

    Business-as-usual for the Cedar Cottage Food Network involves urban farming, including gardening and food literacy workshops and seed saving. CCFN has helped meet community needs by providing access to an Indigenous medicine wheel garden and community grown food at Copley Community Orchard, along with access to low cost produce through community pop-up markets.

    Prior to COVID-19, the Network operated two weekly community markets at two partner sites, where fresh produce was sold at cost to community members. To adapt to physical distancing protocols, they’ve changed their model to a pre-packaged produce box that is available to community members and agencies on a sliding scale ($10, $5 or free). Neighbours have been eager to show their appreciation for access to this food during tough times. One person places orders for a neighbour living with Multiple Sclerosis, who would otherwise have difficulty meeting her nutritional needs.

    An image of veggies arranged in the grass to spell Thank You

    What neighbours are saying

    “Thank you to everyone at Cedar Cottage and your amazing staff and volunteers. You all work so hard at making this produce program available to us. Everything is always of incredibly high quality and quantity. You make it affordable for myself, my daughter and granddaughters and my Mom to enjoy this nutritious produce.”

    “You are also saving us all from having to wait in long lineups and then carry the produce home. Transit is difficult to access for them as well. My Mom is 90 years next month and my daughter has two toddler girls, so it’s difficult for them to get out at this time.”

    “I have been using my portion to cook nutritious jars of soups and casseroles that I take to my Mom, so she has easy to reheat-and-eat meals at hand.”

    “So thank you again from all of us to all of you. Your generosity and warm kindness is very much appreciated by us at this time. Bless your hearts.”

    Goals

    In the future, CCFN plans to expand on food literacy programming to include food preparation workshops, food justice advocacy, and broader partnerships with community groups. The Network’s goals include continuing to build community connections through food, and exploring opportunities to build a more sustainable local food network.

    Learn more, contribute and celebrate community food action with Cedar Cottage Food Network: